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  • Writer's pictureLaura Haywood

Stress in the era of Covid-19

Updated: Jul 19

We now have a joke in our house, as I am sure many of you do, that if either of us, or the dogs, put weight on, it is ‘covid’ weight. True story – our veterinarian recently reported to us that one of our dogs had put weight on! We are now trying to prevent our greyhounds from becoming Labradors.

Life has changed so much this year for so many in the world. Things I didn’t pay much attention to before, such as going to the grocery store or the doctor’s office, have now become major stressors & the only excursions out the house. Adjusting to the changes, or resisting them, has caused much stress to many. Wearing masks being one of them. I still find myself smiling & realizing people can’t really tell what my face is doing. The number of times I try to use facial recognition on my cell, and am surprised when it doesn’t recognize me with a mask on. However, the passive-aggressive positive side to masks is being able to call someone a jerk and they have no idea – to be used only in an 'emergency, break glass' situation. Just be mindful of when you have your mask on & not, and whether you are mouthing it or saying it out loud. Obviously, Belle needs a better fitting mask!

Dog with a mask on. Playful image related to stress in Covid blog.

Why am I writing about stress? Many others have written their perspectives already. What does my voice add? Maybe something will resonate that hasn’t been heard before. We never know what people hear. It’s my voice and I value my musings, & maybe someone else will too.

The first thing I want to share is to be aware of how you are showing up in the world. If you go to the store expecting drama, you will inevitably find it. If you go with a beginner’s mind and from a perspective of knowing we are all struggling with what is going on in the world in some way, you will show up with compassion and not fear and anger. If we only see the negative, that is what shows up for us. We need to embrace the positive too, and have balance. We need to laugh and have fun, especially at times of increased stress.

You may be finding that you are spending more & more time with those in your household. This maybe a great thing for some, and not so much for others. Extend the compassion to those in your home – hopefully, they'll do the same in return. Have a discussion about how the situation is affecting them and you, and really hear what is being said and what everybody’s needs are at this time.

Be aware of your triggers. We all have them. It could be seeing someone wearing a mask or not wearing a mask, being around your family too much and not having enough time with your friends, the numerous contentious Facebook posts that you don’t agree with. When you become aware of your triggers, you have a choice in how you respond. Breathe & allow yourself time to respond, or not respond. Being proactive and not reactive will help reduce your stress. We don’t want you living with long-term stress, as this can have negative effects on your health in terms of worsening existing health conditions, leading to high blood pressure, migraines etc… The list goes on as to what can be affected by long-term stress.

Don’t assume others’ thoughts or intentions. We rarely get it right. This goes for the good old grocery store (as you can tell this is the highlight of my week), as well as emails, texts, social media and interactions with family & friends. I repeat, have a beginner’s mind and be open to hearing.

Talk to someone – a friend, partner, therapist or a life coach (funnily enough, I know a really good one of those 😊).

Butterfly on a flower. Signifying growth and beauty and being present in nature during times of stress.

Stay in the present. We actually cannot control the future, and cannot change the past. Being present is more than simply a nice saying, it is a practice of being in the present in each moment. Keep yourself centered and grounded. Go for a walk. See the world around you. Hear the birds singing. Live in the present with gratitude. One of my favorite quotes is from Alice Morse Earle “Every day may not be good... but there's something good in every day”. Find the good in every day.

The 10-10-10 rule by Suzy Welch is a great tool to help you think about stress. Will this source of stress matter in 10 minutes, 10 days, 10 months (decide your own time frame)? If it won’t matter, then let it go.

Lastly, self-compassion. We are all human & we all mess up. Don’t use your missteps as a way to feel worse about yourself. Learn from it and move on.

So, whatever is creating stress in your life at present, stay grounded, breathe and laugh at some point during each day. Be your own sunshine. Thank you to all the hospital workers, grocery store workers, delivery people & USPS workers.

Sunset over the water. Relevant to staying present at times of stress. Gratitude.

Laura Haywood is a professional life coach, helping people to move forward with new perspectives and ways of being; to shine in the world.

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